Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Injury vs Chronic Flare Up, part 1

Many people come in to see me with back pain. I always ask if they have ever had the problem before. There is a reason why I ask and why it is important. You may have just injured the area or you may have exacerbated a problem that was already there.

There is a drastic difference between a fresh injury and a flare up of a chronic problem. 

A fresh injury that gets treated properly can greatly reduce the amount of scar or fibrous tissue making the recovery shorter and with better strength. An improperly treated problem becomes a chronic battle with painful flare-ups for the rest of your life. It would be like going to the gas station to have air put into a flat tire every week instead of removing a nail and patching the hole.

An acute flare up of a chronic problem means the pain is not from fresh damage to the original tissue but is from inflammation. Pain is just 1 sign of inflammation. The others being redness, swelling, heat, and loss of function. Just because the pain goes away does not mean the problem is really fixed. It is just less inflamed. Fixing the problem is an entirely different animal. Scar tissue can be dealt with but not the same as a fresh injury.

In part 2 of this topic I will address why scar tissue forms, why it is a problem, and most importantly how to correctly address dealing with it. Until then, stay healthy my friends.

Dr. Christian Cohen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Debunking Organic Food Myths

If this is healthy- why is he wearing a mask?
I never really know if I should laugh or cry when I hear someone talk about "regular" vs organic food. We come up with lots of reasons for not buying organic: cost, availability, not visually appealing, and so on. The organic section in the grocery store is called "health" food. What does that make the rest of it? Yes, you got it - unhealthy food. The truth is...organic food is REAL food that has not been doused in bug spray and weed killer or worse had it genetically fused into it.

The 2 biggest things I hear why someone doesn't eat organic:

  1.  There isn't really any difference. They just want more money.
    Well, if I handed you an apple and told you I hosed it in bug spray first, would you eat it? I don't think so. If I gave you a choice of 2 apples and one had bug spray and the other cost 30 cents more which would you choose? I have posted before about the damage pesticides and herbicides do to the hormone system. The 30 cents somehow seems insignificant after reading this.
  2.  It costs too much to eat organic.
     This one is a bit tricky to just throw out. Yes- real food costs more per fruit or vegetable BUT you also get more nutrition out of it so after a couple months of eating real food your appetite will naturally drop and the cost of food per month will not really change. This is also a very short sighted response. Is it better to save a few bucks now and spend vastly higher amounts on unnecessary illnesses, lost time at school or work due to doctor's visits, and generally lower health status?

Real Food Has No Bug Spray!
The good new is that there are solutions:
  1.  I very highly recommend my friends at Terra-Organics for a great way to shop for fruits, veggies, and some other miscellaneous items. You tell them what you want and they deliver it. It doesn't get much easier than that.

  2.  Use the web to find great recipes with lower cost items. I love a black bean chili (in fact, I have a pot full on the stove right now simmering for dinner). Beans are an amazing source of high quality protein. Great for lowering cholesterol, improving your waist line, and saving money.

  3.  Most importantly: Decide to be okay with it! 100 years ago almost 25% of a family's annual income was spent on food. Today it is closer to 10%. Food (and I use the term loosely) has become overly-available and inexpensive and we are paying for it with our waist lines and our health.

As always, I remain available to answer questions one-on-one or in a group health talk. Reaching me is easy.  Stay healthy my friends.

In health,
Dr. Christian Cohen

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How do you value health care?

  This last week we saw a large number of clients with drastically different insurance benefits as we start 2012. Less massages, tighter limits on adjusting, less rehabilitation and all for more money. It is not really shocking to see premiums and deductibles get bigger while coverages and limits get smaller. After all, insurance companies are a business and have to answer to shareholders first and you, the patient, later.

 More and more, people are referred to as "non-insured" - insured patients. These are people with such large deductibles or ridiculously low limits that they have essentially no coverage. For example, someone might need $1500 worth of care and have a $3000 deductible. Or they may require 24 visits to fix a problem and their insurance will only pay for 8. 

 What do you do when presented with this situation? Sadly, many people never address their health care budget with the doctor's office and simply continue to suffer with a problem they should have fixed. In my office, we recognize that each person's financial situation is as different as their health concerns. This is why as a progressive and concerned provider office, we have options to work with every budget so each person can be treated with respect and dignity to get the care they need without feeling like a charity case.

 I am not trying to do a commercial. Many offices will work with a patient financially. Very few are so cold as to turn away a suffering patient. My point is that it is up to you as a patient to bring up any financial concerns and even better - propose a solution that is fair and reasonable to both you and the doctor. This way you get the care you need and the doctor gets to stay in the business of helping people.  

In health,
Dr. Christian Cohen

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Make Procrastination Work for You

Chances are, you are making (or just made) resolutions for the new year. Some of the most popular resolutions are to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight.  For improving eating habits, the best thing may be to procrastinate. Procrastination has gotten a bad rap for so long that it is time we start leveraging it to our advantage for a healthy lifestyle. 

I used to eat ice cream like it was going out of style. I would get a pint of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough and down it in a single sitting after dinner. I didn't even bother with a bowl. I knew the whole thing would be gone. And this wasn't once in a while- it was every day. The thing was...I liked it. Who doesn't love rich, sugar and fat-laden ice cream? To make it worse, as soon as I "decided" I couldn't eat ice cream anymore it was the only thing I wanted.

As my waistline grew and my blood sugar climbed I knew I had to do something different. I was reading a book called Body by God by Dr. Ben Lerner. He suggested procrastinating. So I did. I would walk to Baskin-Robbins in Gig Harbor for a scoop. I had to wait 15 minutes to get to my ice cream (and I was walking 15 minutes each way for it). Then I decided to up the ante. I would say to myself, "I can wait an extra day".  Then it became 2 days, then 3 days. Then I was procrastinating to eat ice cream only on Sunday. When I got a Friday craving for ice cream I would put it off until Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I ate ice cream on Sunday and I was guilt-free. I was leveraging the power of procrastination to my advantage. 

Then a funny thing happened. I realized one Monday morning that I had missed my Sunday ice cream!  I was doing a lot of weekend travel for work and would be flying home on Sunday nights. It was purely by accident that I missed my dose that week. The next thing I knew it had been weeks since I had ice cream at all. Now it has been years since having ice cream (although I do enjoy a semi-annual bowl of coconut milk ice cream, sweetened with agave instead of sugar). I successfully leveraged procrastination to eliminate a bad food habit! 

You can do the same thing. Take a food you know is bad for you and just start procrastinating. Get to the Oreo cookies later. Save that pizza for another day. Put the sweets away for a while. It works if you just get to when you get to it.  Of course, you can call me now to help you through it and get some measurements to track how well procrastinating can work for you. Call me at 253-858-2474 and I will not procrastinate in helping you reach your goals.